Tax Implications Of Dividing Retirement Assets
Tax implications for retirement assets differ depending on various factors, including the plan type. Most times, retirement transfers are tax-free. Sometimes, however, the plan defers the tax until the participant receives or withdraws the retirement funds. You should consult a Certified Public Accountant or tax attorney about the best way to deal with the specific retirement accounts in your divorce.
Normally, taking a distribution from your retirement account before reaching retirement age counts as an early distribution, which incurs a 10% penalty fee. However, if you’re disbursing retirement funds after a divorce settlement, there is no early withdrawal fee, as long as you transfer the funds according to the divorce order.
Getting Legal Help
If you have questions about the property division in your case, you will need to contact an experienced family law attorney to find out your rights. An attorney can simplify the divorce process and help you understand how the court may divide your assets.
If You Are Over Age 59 1/2 But Under Age 72
If you are the beneficiary of your spouses 401 plan and you are over age 59 1/2, but not yet at the required minimum distribution age, you have a few choices:
- You can roll over the account into your own IRA. The potential advantage to this is you will not be required to start distributions until the calendar year after you reach your RMD age of 72 . This option provides additional flexibility because you can withdraw the money if needed, but you won’t be required to withdraw it until you reach your RMD age. You name your beneficiaries with this option. For most people, this is the best option.
- You can leave the funds in the plan. If your spouse was over age 72 and had started their distributions, you continue taking these required minimum distributions each year or you begin taking them when your spouse would have reached their RMD age. The beneficiary designations set up by your spouse continue to apply with this choice.
- You can roll the funds over to a specific type of account called an “inherited IRA.” With an inherited IRA, you take required distributions based on your single life expectancy table. If you desire, you can take out more than this amount, but not less. You name your beneficiaries with this option.
Rollovers And Comingling Of Retirement Assets
Another question frequently asked regarding premarital retirement assets is What happens in a divorce if I rolled over my premarital 401k plan into an IRA during my marriage?
If no contributions were made to the 401k or the rollover IRA during the marriage, the rollover IRA is not subject to equitable distribution. If contributions were made during the marriage, then a portion of the rollover IRA would be marital and subject to equitable distribution. The assistance of an accountant can be beneficial in differentiating the premarital portion of the IRA from the marital portion. Choosing an attorney who works collaboratively with such accountants for this purpose is important.
In other situations, the other spouses name may have been added to the IRA during the marriage. In that instance, the asset may be deemed by the court to have been commingled, meaning that premarital funds were blended with marital funds, therefore making a substantially greater portion, or all, of the asset subject to equitable distribution.
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Why Both Spouses Should Open An Ira Separately
While you’re still able to contribute to a retirement account, it’s worth maximizing both your IRAs to receive the greatest tax benefits. Both traditional and Roth IRAs have the same contribution limits: For 2022, those under age 50 can make a total contribution into their IRAs of up to $6,000, but if you both open an account, that’s a combined $12,000 annually. Plus, if you and/or your spouse is 50 and older, don’t forget that you can each contribute an additional $1,000 per year as a “catch-up” contribution, which brings that combined total to $14,000.
Consider opening an IRA at one of the top brokerages like Charles Schwab or Fidelity. Or consider a robo-advisor like Wealthfront, SoFi and Betterment, which build and manage a custom portfolio based on your age, risk tolerance and investment time horizon. Each offer traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as retirement planning tools to help you and your spouse stay on track.
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Tax On Early Distributions
If a distribution is made to you under the plan before you reach age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% additional tax on the distribution. This tax applies to the amount received that you must include in income.
Exceptions. The 10% tax will not apply if distributions before age 59 ½ are made in any of the following circumstances:
- Made to a beneficiary on or after the death of the participant,
- Made because the participant has a qualifying disability,
- Made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments beginning after separation from service and made at least annually for the life or life expectancy of the participant or the joint lives or life expectancies of the participant and his or her designated beneficiary. ,
- Made to a participant after separation from service if the separation occurred during or after the calendar year in which the participant reached age 55,
- Made to an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order ,
- Made to a participant for medical care up to the amount allowable as a medical expense deduction ,
- Timely made to reduce excess contributions,
- Timely made to reduce excess employee or matching employer contributions,
- Timely made to reduce excess elective deferrals, or
- Made because of an IRS levy on the plan.
- Made on account of certain disasters for which IRS relief has been granted.
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When Not To Transfer To An Ira
You now know some of the benefits of moving your 401 to an IRA. But control over your money isnt the only thing that matters, and you may have other priorities. Its impossible to list every potential pitfall, but here are just a few examples of when I suggest that clients might want to leave funds with their employer.
Between age 55 and 59.5
When youre at least 55 years oldbut not yet 59 1/2 years oldyou might want to leave at least some of your money in the 401 plan. 401s allow you to pull money out without penalty after age 55 . IRAs, on the other hand, require that you wait until age 59 ½ to avoid an early-withdrawal penalty of 10% on certain distributions. There are always exceptions and workarounds, but those are the basic rules. If you intend to spend your 401 savings between the ages of 55 and 59 1/2, keep this in mind before making a transfer.
Some Government Workers
If you worked for a federal, state, or local government, be sure to explore your options. Those with 457 plans can potentially avoid the early-withdrawal penalty thats commonly associated with 401 and similar plans. Plus, some public safety workers can avoid early withdrawal penalties from a retirement planincluding the TSPas early as age 50.
RMD While Working
Stable Value Offerings
Fees and Expenses
Contribution For Spouses With A Side Hustle
If you are running a small business as a solopreneur, you can save for retirement using a solo 401. The IRS allows self-employed business owners with no employees to save for retirement using a solo 401, which is a one-participant 401. This retirement account has a contribution limit of 58,000 in 2021 . You can contribute an extra $6,500 in catch up contributions if you are 50 or older.
Although the Solo 401 is a one-participant 401, IRS rules provide an exemption if your spouse earns an income from the business. This means you can increase the amount you contribute as a family, since the spouse can make elective deferrals as an employee of the business, up to the $19,500 IRS limit, plus $6,500 in catch-up contribution if he/she is 50 or older. As the spouse’s employer, you can contribute up to 25% of compensation to the spouseâs retirement account in the form of profit-sharing contribution.
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How To Transfer From Your 401 To An Ira
When youre ready to make the transfer, you need to do three things:
I often help clients prepare these requests and do a three-way call with them , making it quick and easy to get things done. But if you prefer, you can probably figure this out on your own.
Unfortunately, you typically have to go through your former employer or a vendor they use. With many 401 plans, you cannot request a transfer using paperwork from the receiving IRA custodian.
Who to Contact
If you work for a large company, you can most likely contact your 401 provider directly. For example, contact Fidelity, Vanguard, or whatever website you use to manage your account. Alternatively, call whoever prints your 401 statements. If you work for a small company, you may need to contact the human resources department, which might just be the person who hired you. Either way, you eventually need one of the following:
What to Say
Signs It Makes Sense To Roll Your 401 Into A Roth Ira
If youre thinking of rolling your 401 into a Roth IRA instead of a traditional IRA, you have plenty of reasons to do so. Not only do Roth IRAs let you invest your dollars in the same investments as traditional IRAs, but they offer additional perks that can help you save money down the line. Here are four signs that a Roth IRA might actually be your best bet.
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Rolling Over Your 401
Theres a right way and wrong way to move a 401 to an IRA, and your surviving spouse will want to do it the right way. Cashing out the fund is the wrong way, since it could result in taxes of up to one-third of your balance. Shell first need to set up an IRA account, preferably shopping around to find the one with the lowest fees. She can then go to the plan sponsor your employer and ask for a direct rollover. This will ensure that the money is moved from the old account to the new one, rather than writing a check for the account balance.
She needs to make an important decision when choosing an IRA provider. There are some brokers who manage everything for clients, creating a diversified profile that needs no hands-on management. However, if shes good with investments, she may instead choose to go with a broker that allows her to actively manage her portfolio on a regular basis. Whichever choice she makes, shell need to regularly check in on the plans performance to ensure it continues to grow.
Rolling Over The Account Into Your Own Ira
Only surviving spouses can roll over inherited assets into their own IRAs. If you do this, the money is treated just like your own IRA. You can make contributions to the account and the withdrawal rules are the same as if you had created the account in your name originally. If youre inheriting a traditional IRA, SEP-IRA, or 401, you must roll it over into a traditional IRA if your spouse named you the beneficiary of a Roth IRA, you can roll it over into your own Roth IRA.
The big benefit of rolling over a traditional IRA is that your required minimum distribution the amount you must take out annually after you reach age 72is based on your own age. So if you were younger than your spouse, rolling over the account to your own IRA gives you the advantage of more tax-deferred growth. For example, if your spouse was over 72 and already required to take distributions, but you are under 72, you will not yet be required to take distributions. Even if you are over 72, your RMD amount would be smaller if you were younger than your spouse, since the amount is based on your statistical life expectancy.
If youre under age 59 ½ and think youll need to withdraw money, however, dont roll over the account. Because a rolled over account is treated just as if it were originally your own, if you withdraw money before youre 59 ½ youll be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. If you converted the IRA to an inherited IRA, , this penalty would not apply.
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What Are 401k Beneficiary Rules For The Surviving Spouse
If your spouse designated you as a beneficiary of their 401, you have various options with the inherited 401. Here are the options you have.
Inheriting a 401 after the death of your spouse is different from inheriting other types of assets. The IRS provides rules that a named beneficiary such as a spouse should follow to determine what to do with the inherited 401, and how much tax to pay when they inherit the spouse’s retirement assets. If you are in the process of inheriting a 401, you should ensure you follow all the IRS rules for taking ownership of an inherited 401.
When a spouse inherits the 401 funds of their deceased spouse, they get more options with the money than other named beneficiaries. If you are the beneficiary of a deceased spouseâs 401, you can decide to leave the money in the spouseâs retirement account, rollover the money into an IRA, rollover the money into an inherited IRA, or even withdraw all the inherited 401 money.
How A Spousal Ira Works
Typically, working individuals can contribute to an IRA according to the IRS contribution limits. However, for married couples, theres an exception to the rule. Spousal IRAs permit a working spouse to put money aside for retirement for a non-working spouse with tax-free growth or a tax-deferred basis, or both.
The spousal IRA is sometimes known as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA, after the former U.S. senator who championed its creation. The spousal IRA can be a powerful tool for married couples to build wealth as the working spouse doubles the couples tax-savings efforts. For example, a combined annual contribution of $12,000 over 30 years at a 5 percent compound return can amount to over $800,000 in retirement savings.
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You Want To Increase Your Tax Diversification
Contributions to traditional IRAs are tax-advantaged, meaning you wont pay taxes on your invested funds until you begin taking withdrawals at retirement. Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are taxed up front but offer tax-free withdrawals after age 59 ½. If youre unsure how your tax and income situation might pan out in the future, having both types of accounts a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA is a smart move in terms of diversifying your future tax exposure.
Are Distributions From A Roth Ira Taxable
A 401 is an employer-qualified profit-sharing plan that offers you tax-deferred savings and investments. You and your employer can make tax-deductible contributions to a 401. You dont pay taxes on the money until you remove it from the plan, and you usually don’t have to have your spouse’s permission to cash it out. But youll have to jump through some other hoops before you can grab the money.
Depending on the type of distribution and the specifics of the plan, you generally do not need your spouse’s permission to cash out a 401.
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How To Open A Spousal Ira
Opening a spousal IRA is a simple process. Nearly any brokerage or robo-advisor offers both IRAs and Roth IRAs that you can open for yourself or for your spouse.
You will need to provide some basic personal information, such as the account holders name, birthdate, and Social Security number. Once the account has been set up, youll be ready to start funding the spousal IRA and building a solid foundation for your joint retirement.
Option : Keep Your Savings With Your Previous Employers Plan
If your previous employers 401 allows you to maintain your account and you are happy with the plans investment options, you can leave it. This might be the most convenient choice, but you should still evaluate your options. Each year, American workers manage to lose track of billions of dollars in old retirement savings accounts, so you should make sure to track your account regularly, review your investments as part of your overall portfolio and keep the beneficiaries up to date.
Some things to think about if youre considering keeping your money in your previous employers plan:
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Transferring 401k Funds To A Spouse
Because all rollovers must occur between accounts with the same owner and taxpayer ID numbers, there is no way to directly roll over funds to a spouses 401k. Even though an unlimited amount of money may be transferred between spouses tax-free, contributions to 401k plans may only be made via salary deferral. The only way to get money from one spouses 401k to another is to withdraw funds from one 401k plan while increasing the withholding going to the other spouses 401k plan.